Program combines workouts for the body and the mind

Program combines workouts for the body and the mind

BY KEREN DOUEK, STAFF WRITER

For those who appreciate bite-sized learning and a good sweat, the Jewish Community Center and the St. Louis Kollel are offering new spiritual exercise classes that combine a workout for the body with one for the mind. Learn and Burn combines interactive, positive, women-based Torah teachings with aerobics, and Torah Yoga is — as its name suggests — a class that integrates the breathing and movement techniques of classical yoga with the study of inspirational teachings from Jewish wisdom and tradition.

“According to Jewish teachings, our bodies are holy vessels,” said Rabbi Brad Horwitz of the Helene Mirowitz Department of Jewish Community Life at the JCC. “We are grateful and appreciative to God that the complex human body is able to function and it is thus a value to take care of our bodies. These spiritual exercise offerings take this value a step further by making the connection between the body and the spirit. While people work out and stretch to improve and maintain their bodies, they are able to nourish and enhance their souls at the same time.”

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Torah Yoga meets every Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon at the Carlyn H. Wohl Building and is taught by Maxine Mirowitz, a certified yoga instructor. Mirowitz teaches both the yoga portion and the Torah portion of the class, and said the five- to 10-minute discussion on Torah principles generally relates “to Kabbalistic thinking, which is of course spiritual thinking, not necessarily of one religion’s practice.”

Mirowitz said yoga itself focuses on the “uniting of our mind and our body, and becoming more at peace and attuned to ourselves in the present moment.”

“Even in our practices of physical well-being we try to combine physical well-being and emotional or spiritual well-being together,” she said.

Learn and burn — which is exclusively for women — meets every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon at the Carlyn H. Wohl Building in the Women’s Health Club and is free for JCC members and $5 per class for non-members. Participants do not need to sign up for the class and are welcome to just show up. The class begins with approximately 20 minutes of Torah learning presented by someone from the Kollel.

Following the learning, Cynthia Rush — a licensed clinical social worker and a nationally certified fitness instructor — leads the class with low-impact aerobics.

“I try to promote a friendly, welcoming environment,” Rush said. “Whether you have never exercised in your life or you exercise everyday, wherever you are in terms of fitness is just fine.”

Rush said participants should also not feel they need to belong to a certain denomination or have any background in Jewish learning to participate.

“Anybody and everybody is welcome,” she said, “and you can ask any question you want; they are open to it.”

She added that the Kollel teachers are “positive and engaging, and everybody participates.”

Yael Kuhlo of the St. Louis Kollel, who helped organize the class after hearing of similar programs from a different Kollel, said the idea is for it to be something that could appeal to “anyone, anywhere in the Jewish population.”

“What we’re trying to give over is very wholesome and happy,” she said, “and it is a good, uplifting time in general.”

Baby-sitting is available by advance reservation in the fitness center until 12:30 p.m.

For more information on either of the classes mentioned above contact Craig Prindle at 314-442-3293.

Keren Douek is a staff writer and can be reached at [email protected]